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Sea Hunt Boats quietly gains saltwater market share

Posted on September 28th, 2016 Written by Reagan Haynes

Sea Hunt sales manager Johnny Craig spoke about the companys success at the Progressive Norwalk Boat Show.

Sea Hunt sales manager Johnny Craig spoke about the company’s success at the Progressive Norwalk Boat Show.

NORWALK, Conn. — Sea Hunt Boats has been gaining market share in the 18- to 30-foot range saltwater market steadily during the last decade, but is fairly quiet about its success.

The Columbia, S.C., boatbuilder sees dealers making three to four turns on average, while they clamor for more boats. But Sea Hunt has found its sweet spot, according to Sea Hunt sales manager Johnny Craig, and isn’t looking to add to its 34 dealers in its network.

“The company builds 2,000 boats a year,” Craig told Trade Only Today at the Norwalk Boat Show. “We produce eight boats a day, every day. Then the boats are on haulers and being delivered. There are no boats in the yard.”

The company, founded in 1995 by Vic and Bubba Roof, a father and son team, now has a 170,000-square-foot facility and is not computerized at all, Craig said. Bubba Roof, age 44, has the majority stake in the company and runs it with his partner Joel Moss.

“Bubba is there every morning at 6 a.m. and checks the molds,” Craig said. “He invests in inventory of purchased items. He keeps it in stock so he can deliver those eight boats each day, and keeps track via a pad of paper and a pen. Bubba is the only one who submits orders to be produced.”

“Every dealer I have would like to have more boats,” Craig says, adding that he was hired by Roof to make sure “the dealers were being taken care of.”

Steven Bolanos of All Seasons Marine Works, the dealer displaying seven Sea Hunt models, as well as Regulator and Pursuit, at the show, said his business would gladly take more Sea Hunts. “We sell them as fast as we get them,” Bolanos said.

The company had tried to build beyond those 2,000 boats, but scaled back again to ensure the quality and oversight that the company has built its reputation on.

“We have no intentions of expanding into bigger boats either,” Craig says — which is noteworthy as nearly all the saltwater market players have introduced new models in the 40-foot range. “That’s not us. We don’t want to build a half-million dollar boat. We build boats for families, not just hardcore fishermen.”

Roof also doesn’t spend money on print advertisements, relying on devout word of mouth. The company is debt free and relies on its buying power to keep prices low. Craig didn’t want boat show prices listed in print, but maintained that the boats are among the most competitively-priced without sacrificing fit, finish and quality.

Craig, who came from Stingray Boats, said he was captivated by the enthusiasm and excitement at the company.

“Bubba has a real passion for the brand and a great relationship with his dealers,” he said. “They retain their employees because they pay well. Where we are in South Carolina, there are other boatbuilders. Our employees have opportunities to go elsewhere, and we don’t want that to happen.”

There are more than 100 workers at the plant, though Craig declined to be specific about the workforce. The dealer network is in the Southeast and Northeast, with a couple in Texas, Craig says. Dealers in other parts of the country would like to represent the product, but, “Who would I cut off to give a new dealer 40 boats?” Craig asked.

There are seven lines within the brand, many of them center consoles. Those include the Gamefish Series, the BX Bay Boat Series, the Ultra Series designed for comfort, the Triton Series — billed as “an affordable boat with excellent performance” — the dual console Escape Series, the center console Edge Series, and the RZR Stepped Hull Series.

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Sunseeker sales expected to reach £95m following Cannes and …

Sunseeker International reported it is starting its boat show season with £70m of confirmed retail orders (exc. tax), and an expected £25m of additional orders to be agreed shortly.

At this year’s Cannes Yachting Festival, Sunseeker launched four new models – the 95 Yacht, 116 Yacht, 68 MK II and Manhattan 52. The Cannes show – which is the first of the autumn season – was extremely busy for Sunseeker, according to the company, with very high levels of visitors to the stand and pre-booked meetings with clients and prospects at a record high.

Sunseeker continued to see high levels of visitors at the Southampton Boat Show, the U.K.’s largest in-water boat show, and held a record number of pre-booked meetings with existing and new customers. Interest in the new Manhattan 52 has been particularly high. This new yacht is Sunseeker’s smallest flybridge model in over a decade. The Manhattan 52 is designed to maximize entertainment options, light and living space throughout the boat and it sets the design direction for a new wave of Manhattan models that will be introduced over the coming years.

“This year’s Cannes and Southampton Shows have been truly excellent – we’ve enjoyed really positive events with substantial confirmed retail orders, on sales of 25 luxury motoryachts across the range, with an additional £25m of orders to be agreed shortly,” said Sean Robertson, sales director at Sunseeker International. “We were particularly proud to host the world premier’s and U.K. debuts of our new models, the Manhattan 52, the Predator 68 MKII, the 95 Yacht and the 116 Yacht, all of which have been eagerly awaited by existing customers and those new to our brand. It’s also been a real pleasure to welcome so many visitors and special guests to the stands, which included our graduate apprentices and the Minister of Transport the Rt Hon John Hayes MP at the Southampton Boat Show.”

The business also revealed at Cannes Yachting Festival that it moved back into profit in the second quarter of 2016 with a forecasted overall return to profit for the full year. The next five years will see a massive £50 million of investment spent across new products, improved shipyard facilities and the continued recruitment of people.

Multiple model launches are set to continue as part of a long-term product plan that will see new model introductions across the size range over the next five years including additions to the Manhattan range.


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